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The Australian National University

Andrew James Connelly

PhD candidate

Thesis topic

Colonial and Indigenous histories in the Trobriand Islands


Chris Ballard (Chair), Bronwen Douglas, Mark Mosko, Jay Crain

My research

My doctoral research involves historicising the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea through a combination of archival historiography and ethnographic fieldwork. My thesis is focused on the complex and ambivalent interplay between Trobriand Islanders and dimdim - European missionaries, government officers, anthropologists, traders, etc. - from their first encounters in the early 1800s through World War II; and how Trobrianders today relate to the past in everyday life.

About the student

My research interests include: Trobriand history and ethnography; Oceanic historicities (how people in the Pacific receive, reform, reenact and otherwise reflect their pasts in the present, with an eye toward the future); World War II in the Pacific; Missionary history in the Pacific; Oral history in Melanesia; ethnographic film; film in PNG; and photography with an ethnographic focus.


  • 2013 'The AIDS Crisis in the Trobriand Islands: An Historical View.' In Pacific at the Crossroads: A history of developments in the Pacific. 19th Biennial conference papers, Pacific History Association.Yarapea, Apoi and Sam Kari (eds). Goroka: Pacific History Association and University of Goroka. Pp. 83-91.
  • 2013 Photo and text selections (2) in Anthropology in Schools and Colleges. London: Royal Anthropological Institute's 'Discover Anthropology' program.
  • 2007 'Counting Coconuts: Patrol Reports, R.L. Bellamy and a penchant for numbers in the colonial Trobriand Islands. ' In The Proceedings of the Southwestern Anthropological Association, 1(1). Castaneda, Terri (ed). Sacramento: Southwestern Anthropological Association. Pp. 31-46.

Conference presentations

  • 2013 'Re-worlding Oceanic pasts: Regional and global relations of exchange in the pre-colonial Trobriand Islands.' Paper presented to the Australian Anthropological Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, July 2013.
  • 2013 ''They had long been expecting me': Local indigenous agency and Sir William MacGregor's exploration of the Trobriand Islands.' Paper presented to the 'Local Intermediaries in International Exploration' Conference, The Australian National University, Canberra, July 2013.
  • 2012 'The View from Losuia: History, Ethnography and Photography in the Trobriand Islands.' Invited seminar, Menzies Library, Australian National University, September 2012.


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